A COMPLETE RUN OF
COVER TO COVER COMPLETE!
ISSUES 1-47 COMPLETE
MAIN CHARACTER: Steel Sterling
Steel Sterling was a Golden Age super-hero. He was definitely in the
tradition of Superman. He had a super-strong and largely invulnerable
body, could run fast, and could fly. He also wore a costume, like Superman,
and was an all around super-powerful guy. Unlike Superman, Steel Sterling
was an Earthman, an ordinary human who became transformed into a man
Steel Sterling appeared in Zip Comics from #1 (February 1940) to #47
(Summer 1944). He also was in Jackpot Comics, from #1 (Spring 1941)
to #9 (Spring 1943). He was revived in both the Silver Age, and more
Like other Golden Age heroes, Steel Sterling had comic sidekicks. Steel
often helped out Officer Clancy, an honest and kind hearted but somewhat
humorous cop, who did comedy relief in the tales. Both men were also
friends with Alec Ben Lunar, better known as Looney. Looney eventually
became a Corporal in the U.S. Army. All of these guys seemed distinctly
part of the urban working class. They were the sort of ordinary guys
one might meet on any big city street corner.
The Scarlet Avenger
The Scarlet Avenger was a Golden Age crime fighting hero.
Gang Buster (1940). Writer: Harry Shooten. Art: Irv Novick. The Scarlet
Avenger and his operatives break up an insurance fraud gang. The first
Scarlet Avenger tale.
This story is rich in creativeness. It is not a true origin tale -
it only tells a little about how Jim Kendell actually became the Scarlet
Avenger. What it concentrates on is the amazing array of scientific
devices Jim has invented, to aid his career. These are fascinating.
They are also well integrated with the crime plot. Each one's use advances
the crime story in a logical and significant way. The crime plot is
itself complicated, with an elaborate series of insurance frauds we
see both after the fact, and later from the inside; detective work by
The Scarlet Avenger and his operatives; a series of different crooks
who interact with each other in complex ways, and a variety of locales.
All this and the Scarlet Avenger's anti-crime inventions, all in six
pages! The story is a model of artistic economy.
The Scarlet Avenger is a masked crime fighter without super powers,
but with a secret identity and a lot of high tech inventions. In this
he sounds like Batman. However, the actual feel of the character is
very different from Batman, or such Batman imitators as the Green Arrow.
Unlike Batman, The Scarlet Avenger is not a lone crime fighter. Instead,
he is the head of a large team of operatives. These men and women take
orders from him, and aid him with his war on crime. Also, his inventions
tend not to be simple technological devices like the Batarang or Bat
Signal. Instead, they are massively innovative scientific breakthroughs.
They are clearly so futuristic that they should be considered science
fictional. Also, unlike Batman, the Scarlet Avenger's world is not grotesque.
The criminals he fights are typical 1940's gangsters, who run rackets
that are depicted with realism. The crooks dress in suits, not costumes,
and are the typical racketeers of the era.
The Scarlet Avenger is also older looking and more mature than Batman,
and many comic book heroes. While he wears a cape with a mask attached,
he is otherwise dressed in a normal business suit and tie of the era.
Even his cloak is worn because it is bullet proof, not as a part of
a super hero costume. His whole style of dress has a business like quality,
as if he is a serious responsible figure, and member of society. Jim
is a serious looking person, in general, both with and without his mask.
Such a character is a bit unusual for the comics. The fact that he never
smiles also underlines the serious nature of his mission and social
The Scarlet Avenger is strongly in the tradition of such pulp heroes
as Doc Savage. Like Doc, he is a scientific genius who has created many
crime fighting inventions. Like Doc, he has a team of loyal operatives.